C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Tricity stuck in Diwali, network jam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2 
The Diwali rush was not restricted to the tricity roads only. With a huge load in the traffic on mobile networks, subscribers in the tricity complained of network failure and a high rate of call drops, especially towards the evening. 

A number of customers complained that they were unable to receive signal on their mobile handsets due to the high volume of traffic on network. People rued that call drops, too, were very high. “I had to make at least three calls on one number to send across a one-line message to my wife,” said Vikrant Kumar, a resident of Sector 44. Subscribers also claimed that even the SMSes were affected because of the traffic congestion. “ I sent an SMS to my friend in the afternoon, but it was delivered after two hours,” rued Rajneesh Kumar, a resident of Panchkula.

Sources said the call drop problem was a result of the refusal of the administration to allow cell phone companies to install new towers. As the number of mobile connections were increasing and the infrastructure remaining the same, congestion on the network was leading to these problems, they added.

Randhir Verma, president, Chandigarh Telecom Subscribers Association, said the number of connections by most cell phone companies were at least five to seven times more than the actual connections to be installed as per the existing infrastructure. “As a result, the system collapses,” he said.



Chaos rules tricity roads ahead of Diwali
Rally by employees of the Electricity Department added to the confusion in Mohali
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh/ Mohali, November 2
Eager to shop ahead of Dhanteras and Diwali, shoppers literally brought the tricity to a halt. Cops found themselves helpless in controlling the vehicular traffic, as chaos ruled supreme on tricity roads with commuters stranded for hours.

In Chandigarh, commuters were stuck till late in the evening along the entire stretch of Madhya Marg, Dakshin Marg, the road dividing Sectors 17 and 22 (opposite ISBT), and the road dividing Sectors 34 and 35 in particular.

The Tribune Correspondent spoke to a cross section of commuters, who vented out their frustration. Devesh Chowbey, a senior manager in a multi-national company, said it took him an hour to travel from Panchkula to his office in Sector 9.

“I did not see a single cop on duty while I was driving. This is absolute callousness on part of the authorities and some action should be taken”, he said. Chowbey was not alone who braved the serpentine mortor queues on the roads catering to the festive crowd. The residents across the city were fuming over the inadequate traffic management.

Anuradha Verma, a HR head with a private company, said, “It took me 25 minutes to travel on the less than one-kilometer road track opposite the bus stand. Sohni Sandhu, a housewife, said, “It took me more than an hour to drive back home to Mohali from Sector 22 in the evening.”

BS Negi, Deputy SP (traffic) said, “The roundabouts are manned by four policemen, all over the city. Our full force is at the job.”

Negi added, “Things are bad on roads only because of the festival season. We often allow traffic on different roads turn by turn, which leads to a big waiting at certain points. And if people are talking about missing cops on traffic points then probably they are not able to see them due to the heavy vehicular rush.”

Meanwhile, In Mohali vehicles were seen parked haphazardly in the parking lots and on the roads. It was difficult for cops to control the vehicular traffic that moved through the busy shopping streets, extending from Phase 5 to Phase 7.

By afternoon the number of vehicles had swelled manifold. Those travelling to distribute Diwali gifts added to the chaos and a rally by the employees of the Electricity Department added to the confusion as one side of the road leading to the YPS chowk was closed to traffic. The employees kept on sitting on the road till the Punjab Government officials did not accept their memorandum.

In the markets of phases 5, 3B2 and 7, there was total chaos as Diwali stalls had been allowed to operate within the parking areas. The stalls selling eatables, gifts, sweets and earthenware have come up in all the markets.

SSP Mohali GPS Bhullar said in wake of the festival season, elaborate police arrangements had been made to ensure incident-free Diwali. All the Station House Officer (SHOs) had been asked to intensify patrolling in their areas. A battalion of PAP had been requisitioned to help the local force in carrying out the patrolling.



Trader robbed of  Rs 15 lakh, $ 10,000 at gunpoint
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Belying tall claims of massive security arrangements by Chandigarh Police during the festival season, two motorcycle-borne armed youth robbed a businessman of ` 15 lakh cash and around 10,000 Canadian dollars at gunpoint in Sector 35 this morning.The victim, Shubash Bajaj, a resident of Sector 35, runs an agency of Western Union in the same sector.

According to sources, the assailants came on a red-coloured Bullet motorcycle and one of them smashed the windscreen of Bajaj’s Honda City car with a baseball bat to stop him in the residential area, while the other miscreant remained sitting on the bike. After giving the shape to their nefarious activity, they sped away brandishing a pistol to an eyewitness.

According to the police, Subhash left his house at around 9.45 am as per his daily routine and was heading to his workplace at the time of incident. The miscreants, who were waiting for him at the next turn of his house, probably knew his schedule. Seeing Subhash’s car approaching, one of the miscreants came in front of the vehicle and smashed the windscreen of the vehicle and held him at gunpoint.

Subhash was asked to handover the briefcase lying on the rear seat of his car. According to Subhash, the briefcase contained Rs 15 lakh cash and around 10,000 Canadian dollars and some important documents.

An eyewitness, Bachi Lal, said: “I thought that some altercation has taken place. When I was coming towards the spot, both the miscreants abused me while brandishing pistol and sped away,” he said.

The other eyewitnesses, Manoj, and his wife who are neighbours of the victim, said that they were coming towards the spot in their car. “We too, thought that Subhash had a tiff with someone. Seeing the youths with covered faces, I realised the gravity of the situation,” said Manoj. He also claimed that he tried to note down the number of bike, but failed.

While on their run, the robbers left their baseball bat at the spot. Immediately after the incident, terrified Subhash ran to his house. 



Teachers or delivery girls?
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Teachers of some private schools have a new job this Diwali: Distributing gifts to a selected list of ‘VIPs’, including UT administration officials and even journalists.Various private schools in the city have directed their teachers to distribute Diwali gifts to ‘VIPs’ personally. Requesting anonymity, some teachers said they had been asked by their respective school managements to visit each person after school hours and deliver the gifts.

The school managements have also asked the teachers to ensure that every ‘VIP’ accepts the gift. “It’s very hectic for me as I have been asked to get the residential addresses of 15 persons, including journalists and officials, to deliver the gifts. I return from school at 3 pm and have to do this forced job till 8.30 pm.

It gets so humiliating at times to beg them to accept gifts,” rued one of the teachers of a renowned private school. “Is this the first time? It happens all the time as schools expect us to be public relations experts. In contrast, the UT administration has made it clear that no teacher of any government school will be directed to perform any duty other than teaching. We wish the UT administration would evaluate the level of staff satisfaction in private schools, too. Are we teachers or delivery girls?” questioned another teacher.



Deadline over, 39 PhD candidates still waiting for viva
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
At least 39 PhD candidates at Panjab University have been waiting between four months and as long as a year to get their viva voce done and submitted thesis assessed which is far more than the self-imposed 120 day (four month) deadline set by the university for evaluating all thesis submissions.

As a result, many of these PhD candidates are finding their career paths delayed if not blocked. A viva voce is considered mandatory for assessing a thesis before a candidate can be conferred a doctorate.

Such delays have now put Panjab University in a stiffer, self-disciplinary mode and an explanation is now being called for the delay from respective departments.

Well-placed university sources said the viva voce of three candidates has been pending for over a year, 12 between six months and a year and 24 thesis between four and six months. In addition to these 39 candidates, there are 40 more PhD students who are on the borderline of the stipulated 120-day period, while another 55 candidates have been waiting for over two months (60 days) already.

The reasons are being attributed to the snail’s pace administrative procedures, ignorance among students about the deadlines and hitches at the departmental level.

Even as a list of such cases, where delay in conducting viva is more than 120 days, is scrutinised every two months by the Vice Chancellor, there is no rule laid down to fix the responsibility in such cases of delay. Research scholars seldom highlight the issue of procedural delay out of fear of action from supervisors 


Raid on 102 govt schools
Midday meal manager suspended

Ropar, November 2
Midday meal scheme district manager Hazara Singh was suspended today, following raids on 102 government schools of the district.Director general of schools, Krishan Kumar and 16 teams conducted surprise check on 56 upper primary schools and 46 primary schools of the district.

Krishan Kumar said the quality of education imparted in the government schools had been found to be poor. Also 10 teachers were found absent from their duty, while 12 had reported late on duty.

The latecomers were given show-cause notices. Krishan Kumar said Hazara Singh had been placed under suspension for dereliction of duty.

Sources said Hazara Singh had convened a meeting of teachers from different blocks on the issue of midday meal. Hazara Singh does not have any authority to call any such meeting and hence has been suspended. Krishan Kumar has also suspended a clerk of government school at Kahnpur Khui village for remaining absent repeatedly. — TNS



Crackdown on bakeries
500 kg of edibles destroyed 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Continuing its crackdown on sweetmeat makers, a team of the UT administration destroyed over 500 kilograms of bakery items, including patties, pastries, cakes and breads from three different bakeries in Hallo Majra today.

According to officials, the bakery items were being prepared in unhygienic conditions with rats and flies all around. The officials said the workers were also not wearing gloves or head caps. The officials challaned three bakeries under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, destroyed the food articles under the Epidemic and Diseases Control Act and challaned two bakeries under the Child Labour Act.

The team went to Kajheri village and raided the house of Amarjit Singh, the proprietor of Krishna Sweets, Sector 9, Panchkula. The team destroyed around 3,000 kilograms of sweets.

ADC PS Shergill said the sweets were being prepared on the premises in unhygienic conditions. There was no separate washing area and the place was full of flies.

Shops challaned

A team of officials of the department of Weights and Measures on Tuesday raided the premises of Gupta Crockery and Durga Hardware in Dadu Majra Colony and found that the products were being sold without the name of the manufacturer and the maximum retail price mentioned on them. Both the shops were challaned under the Weights and Measures Act. The team also challaned Punjabi Sweets for including the weight of the box along with the sweets.

The team also challaned a dealer of Lakhani shoes in Sector 30. It was found that certain shoes bore no name of the manufacturing company and had no mention of the MRP. The team also challaned Kapoor Snacks for using a weighing scale not approved by the department. 



Consumers switch over to tinned sweets
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Consumers are now switching over to tinned sweets, as the Health Department is actively conducting raids on sweets shops in order to keep a tab on adulterated sweets.The city’s premier departmental stores are packed with tinned gulab jamuns and rasgullas and soanpapris this Diwali. The preserved sweets are very much in demand this Diwali.

Other than the tinned sweets, the departmental stores also have namkeen to offer. A mix of sweet and spice is also available under top brands. It is called meetha chatpata, which has both soanpapri and bhelpuri and is priced at Rs 170.

One of the top brands also gift packs christened as “chatpati baatein” which has three namkeens wrapped inside and is priced at Rs 215.

Commenting on it, a resident of Sector 19 said, “I prefer the packed sweets instead of fresh as packed ones are not perishable and not as expensive as fresh sweets. For the past many years I have been gifting biscuits or chocolates instead of sweets on Diwali.”

The owner of Bhatia Departmental Stores in Sector 19, Raj Kumar said, “We don’t sell fresh sweets. The demand for the packed sweets have gone up in recent years.”

Neha Singh, a college-going girl, said, “The sweets sold on sweetmeat shops are very high on calories and the conditions in which they are prepared are usually not very hygienic. I also prefer the biscuits, chocolates or soanpapris instead.”



Stress on education in rural areas
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 2
A seminar on rural education in rural areas was organised at the Continental Group of Institutes wherein renowned educationists participated.They impressed upon the need of education in rural areas, enabling people in the rural areas to script their own success stories.

Punjab Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor, Dr MS Kang; Thapar University director, Dr Abhijeet Mukherjee; CRRID director general, Dr SS Gill; Panjab University former VC, Dr KN Pathak and Punjab Infotech chairman HS Grewal laid emphasis on ensuring the quality education for rural youth.

Dr Pathak brought out statistics indicating dismal picture of the rural education, particularly education of girls.



‘Aaghaz-10’ gets into trouble
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
As anticipated due to a divided incumbent student council, the first major event of Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC), “Aaghaz 2010”, which is an annual cultural programme, was caught in a conflict today even before it started.

Members of the Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) today accused student council president Gurwinder Vir Aulakh, who hails from the rival organisation, Panjab University Student Union (PUSU), of fraudulently spending student council funds for Aaghaz without inviting tenders.

Protesting on this issue, SOPU members forcibly entered the Vice-Chancellor’s office when a press conference was in progress at 1 pm. They demanded cancellation of the event, responding to which the Vice-Chancellor said no money would be spent from the university’s pool for the event.

“We approached the DSW office and highlighted the matter of gross mismanagement of funds and about not inviting quotations for Aaghaz. The PUCSC president has used the funds and he awarded the contract of sound, light and tents to certain people known to him and therefore kept his share. It is a rule that for any expense exceeding Rs 10,000 from the university’s funds should be incurred only if quotations are taken before hand and the lowest bidder be given the contract,” said SOPU president Amit Bhatia.

“We then went to the VC office and met the DSW, who was present there and asked him to inquire into the matter,” he added.

A meeting of the council president and other student leaders was subsequently called at the VC office. Responding to the allegations of SOPU, PUCSC president Gurwinder Aulakh denied all charges and said the entire event was sponsored. “There was no need of quotations since the entire function is sponsored. The rule for quotations was only valid in case of the university funds being utilised.”

SOPU members, however, said the explanation of sponsors was concocted since there were no names on the publicity material. The university authorities later issued a press release, saying that money for Aaghaz was arranged through sponsorship and it was not spent from the students’ funds.



MC Recruitment and Promotion Policy
Special panel sans representation of employees
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
It sounds strange, but it is true that the special committee constituted by the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation to review the draft of recruitment and promotion policy of the employees does not have any representation from the employees of the Corporation.

As per the proposed committee, MC Mayor Anu Chatrath and five councillors are its members and Additional Commissioner II Lalit Siwach will be its convener. They will discuss and finalise the draft prepared by the authorities on recruitment and promotion policy.

It may be mentioned that in September, the CMC house meeting had decided that a seven -member committee of councillors, officials and representatives of employees would be constituted for making suggestions in finalising the service rules of the employees.

On that occasion, a majority of councillors had objected to as to why the authorities had not consulted the employees while preparing the policy because there were some flaws, which needed to be discussed among the employees before finalising the recruitment and promotion policy.

Siwach said that they had sent the names of the members to the Mayor for her final approval.

It was now up to the Mayor to finalise the list and confirm the names of the committee members.

Reacting to the constitution of the special committee, nominated councillor Amrit Bolaria questioned as to why the committee had not been constituted on those lines that were decided in the house?

Nominated councillor AP Sanwaria said that the authorities had made mockery of the CMC house because the decision taken there had not been implemented. It would be better to discuss the policy in the House, as there was no representation of employees in the special committee. 



Man hangs himself to death
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 2
A 65-year-old man, who had come from Kurukshetra to get his pension in the city committed suicide at his flat in Sector 20 here this morning.The deceased has been identified as Hardev Singh, a retired superintending engineer. The body was handed over to the family members after conducting a post-mortem here today.

The incident came to light when the maid servant knocked at the door of the house and after getting no response she pushed the door which opened quickly as it was not bolted from inside. She found Hardev hanging from a ceiling fan and informed the security guard who further informed the police.

The police reached the spot and sent the body to the Sector 6 General Hospital for post-mortem.

SHO Dharamveer says that it is a confirm case of suicide. He said the case had been registered and investigations were on.

According to neighbours, Hardev used to visit the city in the first week of every month to get pension. They said Hardev was disturbed after the death of his wife last year. 



45-yr-old found dead
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, November 2
A 45-year-old man was found dead on the Ambala-Kalka level crossing near Dhakoli here this morning.The deceased has been identified as Gulab Singh, a resident of Ambedkar Colony, Dhakoli.

According to police, they got the information around 8 am that a body was lying at the level crossing near Dhakoli. The body was handed over to the family after conducting a post-mortem.

An inquest proceeding has been initiated.



Parsvnath Developers told to pay relief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh, has directed Parsvnath Developers Limited and Chandigarh Housing Board to pay ` 28,17,750 jointly for not providing flats to two complainants under the “Prideasia” project in Chandigarh even after 36 months.

Complainant Umed Singh Lamba, a resident of Hisar, said in one such complaint that on September 14, 2007, he had deposited Rs 12,85,000 and was allotted a residential unit in the Parsvnath Prideasia at Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park.

He stated that as per agreement signed on October 6, 2006, the construction of flats was to be completed by respondents within 36 months from October 2006, but respondents failed to make any development at the site. So, dissatisfied with the conduct of the respondents, complainant sought cancellation of allotment and refund of the amount of 
` 12, 85,000. The complainant alleged that despite his repeated requests, the respondents did not refund the amount.

The Chandigarh Housing Board in its reply stated that as per clause 9(a) of the flat buyer agreement, Parsvanath developers were required to complete the construction within 36 months of signing of the agreement and it was the developer who was responsible for non-completion of the construction within the stipulated period and there was no deficiency on part of the CHB.

On the other hand, Parsvnath Developers Limited in their reply stated that the unencumbered land was not made available by the CHB, so they could not start construction and as such the Chandigarh Housing Board was a necessary party. They also submitted that the amounts deposited by the complainant was not with the developers, rather it was deposited in the joint account with the CHB.

The forum directed the respondents to jointly and severally refund `12,85,000 to the complainant, along with ` 50,000, as compensation.

The forum further directed the respondents to pay 5,000 as cost of litigation to the complainant.

Similarly, in other complaint as well, the forum directed respondents to refund ` 14,22,750 to Amit Chopra, resident of Sector 18, Chandigarh. In this case as well, the forum directed to pay ` 50,000 as compensation and ` 5,000 as cost of litigation.



Honour for 6 PGI docs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Six faculty members of the PGI, Dr Surjit Singh, paediatrics, Dr RK Dhiman, hepatology, Dr V Jha, nephrology, Dr BR Mittal, nuclear medicine, and Dr NK Panda and Dr Ashok Gupta, both from department of otorhinolaryngology, received the fellowship of the National Academy of Medical Sciences (FAMS).

The fellowship was given at the 50th annual meeting of NAMS by the National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS) at Government Medical College in Patiala on October 30.

Punjab Governor Shiv Raj Patil was the chief guest on the occasion.

Dr Surjit Singh received FAMS for his contribution in the speciality of paediatrics with special focus on immunology. He is known for his work on Kawasaki disease. Dr Dhiman received it for his contribution in the field of hepatic encephalopathy, portal hypertension and gall stone disease.

Dr Jha has validated a new test for earlier diagnosis and prediction of pre-eclampsia. He has also set up a facility for research in stem cell biology at the PGIMER.

Dr AK Gupta has conducted cadaveric and live surgical courses throughout the country on advance endoscopic procedures. He was honoured on his work on the role of mononuclear stem cells for the reversal of visual loss. 



Fire dept cancels leave of employees
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 2
This Diwali firemen will have to work overtime to ensure a safe festival for town residents. Plagued by an acute staff shortage the fire department has not only cancelled all leave but has asked them to work double shifts.

The fire brigade has only one leading fireman against a requirement of at least a dozen and only four fire engine drivers against the same number needed. Despite a sanctioned strength of 46 firemen, the department has only two who are working on a regular basis. Nine firemen have been employed on contract.

The fire brigade at present has five fire engines, one mini fire engine, one water bouser and two fire jeeps. Assistant divisional fire officer Shyam Lal said repeated requests to the authorities concerned for recruiting at least 20 firemen and four drivers to ensure optimum functioning of the fire brigade had failed to yield any results.

“The subdivisional magistrate had earmarked 12 sites for sale of firecrackers and the fire brigade was sent a copy of the list. However, the brigade won’t be able to station its vehicles at various locations on Diwali because of the staff crunch. In case of emergency officials will have to drive the vehicles as only two drivers would be available at one time”, Lal added.

The municipal council has set up two five-member teams to check whether firecrackers were being sold at the designated sites only as also to keep a tab on encroachments.



Special numbers losing sheen
0001 goes for Rs 5.71 lakh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Fancy number for a fancy car! That continues to be the mantra for the rich and famous of the city. A testimony to this was witnessed yet again at the auction of special numbers in the series CH 01 AE where the number 0001 went under the hammer for Rs 5.71 lakh.

But then, this was far less than the preceding AC and AD series, which was sold for Rs 10 lakh and Rs 8 lakh respectively. The reason, according to an official, is the current astrologically unfavourable period.

Today’s highest bidder turned out to be a city-based lawyer Dr Anmol Rattan S Sidhu, who is currently the Assistant Solicitor General of India, who bought this number for an S-class Mercedes Benz.

“I had even applied for 0003 and 0002. I have other cars numbered 0001 and 0003. In fact, 0003 is close to my heart but this time my family and friends wanted me to have 0001”, said an elated Sidhu talking over the phone from Delhi.

However, except the number 0001, all other single-digit numbers elicited a lukewarm response barring 0009, which sold for Rs 2 lakh, while 0003 was auctioned for Rs 90,000. Probably for the first time, both 0002 and 0006, sold for the reserved price fixed at a far lower Rs 15,000.

In comparison, numbers such as CH 01 AE 0311 sold for Rs 2.4 lakh while 0004 was auctioned for Rs 80,000. The number 0007, which was once a rage, sold for Rs 86,000 while 0008 went under the hammer for 75,000.

Even though this is the first time in recent years that the auction has been conducted on the eve of Diwali, the festival season failed to enthuse residents compared to those conducted in the past. The lack of enthusiasm is being blamed on current astrologically adverse period. The auction, which lasted more than six hours was videographed for the second time.

The officials at the Registering and Licensing Authority (RLA) maintained that this time, unlike the past, the auction had drawn a poor response with only over 80 applicants for 57 special numbers.

Meanwhile, the RLA netted a total of Rs 24,80,800 from today’s auction, which was slightly above the revenue collected on last year’s Diwali Auction.

In fact, the auction of special numbers seems to be losing sheen compared to the prices of previous auctions.



Classes X, XII Exams
PSEB proposes new formulae

Mohali, November 2
The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) authorities are proposing a change in the pass formulae for classes X and XII, exams for which are conducted under the semester system.

Against the existing system, wherein students failing in two subjects were allowed in sit in reappear exams, the board has now proposed that students failing in five subjects would be allowed to sit in reappear exams. However, the special waiver has come with a clause that only one reappear chance would be given to students.

Board officials believe that it would encourage the students to clear their exams in the special chance. The issue has to be taken to the academic council of the board before any formal decision was taken. — TNS



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